Recently, an article was posted by Unleash The Fanboy superwoman, Sheila, titled Stop Complaining When SUPERHERO Movies Are Different Than The Comics! The article made a good debate on how it can be beneficial when the cinema influences comics. I myself take another stance, I love complaining, and I have a lot to complain about. Comic movies are meant to be altered from their newsprint partners; in fact, flicks should stay completely separate from the comic universe!
A great motion picture based on a comic will preserve the main themes of the title and its charecters, while revealing new perspectives on them. I don’t mind when the silver screen varies from the storylines in print- it is supposed to! The Marvel Cinematic Universe is just another alternate world; it tells a diverse version of a classic tale. The problem is when the Cinematic Universe gets promoted over the main universe that spawned it, when the main universe is changed to better fit with the alternative universe, or when the characters making money for Disney/Marvel Cinema are shoved down our throats more than other loved characters.
I can accept that comics and movies play off each other. I, myself, relapsed back into my newsprint addiction when I saw X-Men after years of not reading comics while I was in college. It cannot be denied that many new fans are brought into comics by the Cinematic Universe. A great way both mediums work together to cross-promote is by coinciding Free Comic Book Day with the release of a major motion picture. The problem is when companies use the comics merely as advertisement for the big screen. There have been long periods, during which it seems that major companies forget about the comics and focus strictly on promoting the moving pictures. Luckily, there has recently been a large budget for YouTube and TV ads to promote major comic events, as seen with the New 52, Age of Ultron, and Watchman commercials. That is how TV and print should relate to each other, as long as it is mutually beneficial.
What I hate is when companies center their product line on what is making money in the theaters. This has been the case at Marvel for years.
Let me break down how Marvel formed which characters get priority; Prior to the Avengers franchise, Marvel sold the rights for Blade to New Line Cinema. The 1998 movie proved to studios that comic movies could be a big success. Next, Marvel sold the rights of X-Men to Fox; with this deal, Marvel would receive a small portion of profits from the cinema and merchandise. With the blockbuster success of X-Men, Marvel was able to negotiate a better deal to sell Spider-Man rights to Sony. Then, Disney bought Marvel, which meant that they received all profits from Disney’s Marvel films.
How does this influence the comic industry? This makes it so Marvel is more likely to shove Avengers down our throats and all major Marvel crossovers center on the Avengers. Also, Avengers comics are more likely to coincide with their big screen counterparts; this is why Hawkeye looks more like the movie version, Avengers are again a government agency, Secret Avengers are a S.H.E.I.L.D. team, Agent Coulson is in Earth 616, Fury is black, and there are titles with the same roster as the movies. The X-Men on the other hand, does not get the Disney promotional monster behind them. They don’t have the bulk of merchandise and are often left out of the main crossovers. X-Men are truly the mutants tossed to the side. Fortunately, X-men sales don’t need the promotion; they continue to flourish with or without YouTube commercials. As a result, X-Men comics are not as influenced by the cinema. Xavier can be dead, Cyclops can become a Mutant supremacist and Magneto can join the X-Men. If these comics were more invested in the movies, you could guarantee Xavier would be brought back by the time Days of the Future Past comes out. However, I’m fairly certain they don’t give a crap and he will stay six feet under.
I love a lot of the flicks based on comics. I just have issues with the silver screen disproportionately influencing print, and with bias. I want comic publishers to remember from which medium their characters originated. I love both universes, but they should not be intertwined. They should be embraced for the diversity in stories each brings.
Jay Deitcher, LMSW(
@mrdeitcher) is an educator on comic history and runs successful Free Comic Book Day events yearly. You can see a listing of his incredible articles and his highly energetic videos here.